Sleep – it’s a curious thing. A natural state of unconsciousness, where the nervous system is temporarily inactive, allowing you to ‘recharge your batteries’. Pretty important then, yes? But with one in three Britons suffering from poor sleep, it’s clearly not an art we’ve all mastered.
So what’s getting in the way of us getting a decent 40 winks? We’ve taken a look at some of the prime culprits for affecting your sleeping patterns and a few ideas on how to beat them.
Lack of routine
Jessica Alexander of The Sleep Council explains: ‘A bedtime ritual teaches the brain to become familiar with sleep times and wake times… It programmes the brain and internal body clock to get used to a set routine.’ Baring this in mind, it’s best to try and stick to the same sleep time every night, and set your alarm for the same time each morning. Avoid taking naps in the daytime, as they can run the risk of taking the edge off your tiredness at night, whilst also making it more difficult for your body to get into a natural routine.
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Whether you feel you suffer from stress or depression or not, if you lie in bed at night worrying, it can have a huge effect on your sleep. Depending on the severity of the problem, it might just be a simple case of learning how to clear your mind. It may help to write a list of what’s bothering you, so you can put it away and get it out of your mind until the following morning. Try to avoid clock-watching, as this can increase anxiety levels and make it more difficult for you to drift off. If you still have problems, then contact your GP for advice.
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Although many people believe that alcohol promotes a restful night’s sleep, that’s not always the case. In fact, although alcohol helps you to fall asleep, you find that you have a much lighter sleep after drinking alcohol, meaning you won’t feel well-rested the following day.
It’s also a good idea to cut out caffeine and smoking before bed, as both caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that can cause restlessness during the night.
Lack of exercise
People that don’t exercise regularly can sometimes find it more difficult to get to sleep than those that do. Exercising during the day is a great way to relieve stress and muscle tension – two things that play a part in the quality of your sleep.
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